Sunday, April 13, 2014

MY INTERVIEW WITH A HEAD, SEVERED - TOM ELLARD

Tom Ellard is a ‘musician’—a term he describes as ‘an old descriptor for a sound/video/interactive artist’. While it is hard to establish all aspects of his work briefly, Ellard is best known as founding member of electronic and industrial band Severed Heads (officially active from 1979 to 2008). For those wondering, think tape loops, discordant noise, synthesisers and drum machines. Contextually, the group’s output defied genre generalisations—personified in multimedia innovation—the visual synthesiser.

In the mid 1980s, Severed Heads were a part of the cross-pollination of post-industrial, electronic and dance genres eventuating in the oeuvre Electronic Body Music. The band anticipated and affected future electro-industrial artists in the period following post-industrial music, and avant-garde synth-pop dance hits like ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ (1984), from albumCome Visit the Big Biggot, left an undeniable imprint on like-minded bands after their 1986 world tour, as well as upon the genus of electronic music itself.

Recently, Ellard performed as part of the Adelaide Festival and he currently lectures in the School of Media Arts at COFA, amongst a myriad of other exploits. Here is what we discussed.
HM
 
Being an artist and musician for thirty years, how do you feel about the separation arguably dividing the two disciplines? What keeps them apart commercially, i.e., do you feel as though they should be more intertwined and considered as one? Is your research and catalogue involved in dissolving this gap, and did working in a group such as Severed Heads expand the possibilities for knowledge?

TE
 
You say commercially, so I assume you mean in part the art and music industries. Industry deforms the original intention and deflects its energy. I think the impulse to create is identical across sound, image and so on—like desire, it’s polymorphously perverse. Each artwork is sublimated in different ways—music has a costume it has to wear and painting has a different costume and so on. By the time you see it or hear it it’s dressed in the appropriate straightjacket and so artists identify that as ‘being an artist’. Any definition of art seems to come down to this ‘art context’.
Whatever I do services the one internal need. I call it music, because that annoys tiny-minded people and also conveys the right balance of mathematics and hysteria for what I like to do. I truly believe in and practice the Orphic principle of drunken mess and tidy structure. Neither can provide art alone—each empowers the other.

Recently there has been promotion of a ‘creative industry’. It’s a straightjacket combining design utility and neoliberal governmentality. By that I mean it provides expert metrics by which governments can measure and then impose artistic outcomes—music is bad for that. Its most overt guise is projecting onto buildings—the twenty-first century fireworks show meets Triumph of the Will, but in general it simulates being useful. My ideal of art is the opposite.
HM
 
Will it ever be viable to make underground music, or will bureaucratic industry limitations actually always make it difficult to be employed doing what you love? Severed Heads appear to be a group that was privy both to the world of DIY music culture and that of international recognition, in that you crossed from the former world to one of more commercially defined success. Was it all what you imagined? Did you notice profound differences in your approach towards your music, the music industry and making more records down the track?

TE
 
‘Viable’ again sounds like economics, and so of course it’s not viable! But in terms of being life-affirming and generous then of course it is! But what does ‘underground’ mean? I spent a while designing record covers for major labels called things like ‘underground’, ‘indie’, ‘alternative’. I used to be angry about this adoption of language before I thought—hang on, none of these things ever meant anything. The closer you get to them, the less they have any substance. My favourite thing is a ‘popular underground’ band—that’s the sound of one hand clapping.
Severed Heads made our own media before and after commercial success. In some ways that success was like owning two bakeries rather than one. More bread, so what? In other ways, it was like any tedious job in middle management—teamwork with your team leader to meet goals. The most interesting thing was that when we went back to being ‘independent’, the audience still wanted our records which had been on the major labels. But they saw themselves as being ‘alternative’. Same thing with Radiohead—being on EMI was what allowed them to not be on EMI.
HM
 
Attention comes to few—did you see many make a living from music who deserved to? This is where I want to ask about any older local bands who fell by the wayside and should have attention brought to them.

TE
 
Well, I can’t be sure who deserves what. Bands fall over for all kinds of reasons, sometimes people just get sick of each other. (I got sick of myself.) The most successful people moved on to more mainstream pursuits—like Graeme Revell making film music or David Chesworth forming an ensemble or Philip Brophy as a filmmaker. Moving overseas was the big bet—you would do well or slink back home. Soundtracks and jingles fed some, others like me just got ‘real jobs’. If you follow any group of people they disperse as fate takes them.

HM
 
You often refer to the death and resurrection of Severed Heads in your writings. It must feel good to be part of a working machine for this long. On the other hand, does it feel strange to have surges of attention almost thrust upon you at different points throughout the existence of Severed Heads? You must wonder where these surges come from. Did working consistently with people make the process easier and did the success of Severed Heads affect the music and ideology?
  
TE
 
I talk about it too much, but it’s all tied up with identity. You begin to think, ‘I am synonymous with this public thing’. Then the public aspect gets ugly—they treat you as a brand that they paid for. You want to grow and change and your owners get very angry, they don’t like you changing. The anger is a conversion of the praise you used to get long ago and so you come to hate that praise, hate the fact that they aim their praise at a corpse. You try to bargain—here is me now, here is the thing too—that doesn’t work, you are getting in the way of the thing! So you murder it. Repeatedly. But it never stops—their rejection of you and their love of the thing.
Success is a funny idea. When does it happen? When every living thing on the planet is obsessed with you twenty-four hours a day? When a relative says ‘that wasn’t bad’? The couple of times that we were successful I found it like too many drinks: starts great, ends up nauseating. When it would happen again I’d be pleased but frightened about how it was all going to blow up again. After years of binge and purge you just want small but real moments of happiness, to be liked for who you are, and because there’s a political imbalance between performer and audience that’s not likely to happen through the music industry.
I wish I’d worked with people consistently. But Severed Heads was a sitcom that had too many seasons, and I’m the last one standing. The weird thing is how the audience still identifies people as being part of the band even though they died years ago. ‘Do you still talk to blah blah?’ is a common question. ‘I don’t have an ouija board’, I tell them.
HM
 
In the doctorate of Creative Arts that you’re currently undertaking, ‘the end result is planned to be a series of broadcasts performed on a system that draws on parametrics of character held by the visual assets. In realising this system a number of issues in personality theory and ontology have to be solved from the perspective of the video composer.’ What has this meant for modern visual technology? Through your research, what is being solved for the composer?

TE
 
I am immensely ambivalent about this. On one side some things should remain free of language, remain inscrutable. On the other side, things that can’t be described are in danger of being lost and forgotten. My musician bias says I want to provide a score of my video so that others can interpret it. I can hum some Beethoven, you will recognise it—it is not tied to a specific sound recording. Most abstract video is only kept as the recording and can’t be transcribed. That makes me sad.
The annotation tools for video we have now are about narrative—somebody somewhere does something. Or it’s raw colour. Most old visual music assumes that colour equals pitch and that’s it. How do we describe timbre? I am trying the idea that we can say the same thing that we say about a sky—that it’s ‘moody’ or ‘sad’ or ‘cheerful’. Personality theory is able to provide a simple inventory of these kinds of traits—a five-dimensional grid of character. As bogus as it may be, it’s better than re-inventing some scale from scratch. Previous systems were for one composer only, while this might inspire a universal descriptive system.
HM
 
You are working on a modern clavivox with Paul Greedy. What defines it as modern and what is involved in the assemblage procedure? Through your project Opmitter (that no doubt transgresses audio-visual boundaries), what information have you obtained as an end result? Broadly speaking, what is the next step in terms of your research and the ultimate outcome/machine/visualisation? Have your research and subsequent affirmations continued to prove things you previously believed impossible within sound? Failures?

TE
 
The Wilfred Clavivox is one of many twentieth-century visual music machines. It’s mechanical, having rotating translucent shapes that create a delicate fire-like swirl on a screen. Wilfred built two main types—big organs that only he would play and ‘junior’ versions for the home—we are building a junior. This had rotating discs inside like phonographic albums. We’ll replace the records with a computer-generated signal that means the user can place colours as they like from a controller screen.
But not just any colours, because Wilfred was a Theosophist, and for him colours had particular significance. The colours will be selected according to mental forms they represent in Theosophical teaching. So the idea is to make a Clavivox that keeps everything good about analogue calculation and adds some of the good of digital calculation while satisfying the musical framework that he used. This obviously relates to my own hope of finding a scoring system for visual music.
HM
 
In terms of interpreting and channelling art through music, your recent project involving abstractionist Ralph Balson is on at the moment in Penrith. Is this process appropriation rendered as creation, or is it something you see just as an act from your own artistic practice?

TE
 
Balson was a musician who used canvas and paint. He was concerned with a question that occupied the early twentieth century: as abstraction comes raw from the individual soul, what makes a ‘good’ painting or a ‘bad’ one? Kandinsky and others saw music as a structure which could answer that. Balson followed on. I think that he shared my rejection of art straightjackets. It’s redundant, perhaps insulting, to take his score into sound but it makes the quality of his work evident—I can read it and make a transcription. Just to be cocky I then made a video based on the sounds based on his painting, and that’s showing in the gallery too. All up it declares that the investigation of visual music isn’t complete.

HM
 
Was the central idea within The Shape of a Note realising music three-dimensionally, as some sort of measure of the emotional effect music has on everything? How did you come to this point in your investigation? What data got you here?

TE
 
The Shape of a Note was a few things all at once and failed at all of them, so that’s interesting. It was the first time an electronic musician was an ‘Australian composer in focus’ for HSC students. That didn’t seem to be a popular choice with schools and challenged the staff. We performed with visual music, which was billed as a ‘VJ set’, so we had to provide some scratch video as well. But mostly it was a plea that music and sound be brought together, that a note can be a sound sample and that there is room for both. So the dot on the score actually has a shape—a waveform, for example. That was aimed at changing secondary school teaching, the few who took an interest were keen on it but there was no wildfire! I overestimated what was being asked for, that’s not a bad thing.

HM
 
There are a lot of references to Australia within your music—what was your inspiration behind obtaining your samples? Was Australian identity received or thought of particularly internationally and how do you feel about being here?

TE
 
It was all you had. Severed Heads were bowerbirds and picked up shiny sounds on the local radio and TV. You were far away from Paris and New York and you spoke from your place. The video Kato Gets The Girl is a ‘city symphony’ based on Sydney because that was in walking distance. It wasn’t done on purpose or to make a point. When we finally did tour overseas there came songs about travel and eventually an album, Cuisine, that responded to country and western from living in the USA.
Some musicians are bothered by nationality—for example, they consciously rap with ‘Aussie’ accents. Not for me to say wrong or right, but I think it’s over-cooked. My nationality can take care of itself.
HM
 
How do you feel about contemporary music? Does it feel dead to you entirely? Does your teaching reflect and affect your thoughts on the state of modern popular favourites, or does it lend hope for commercial music? What music or things currently inspire you?

TE
 
The problem is I don’t hear any contemporary music being made. I hear replicas mixed with old folk being revived to rekindle memories. That being the case, I don’t feel the need to ‘keep up’ with anything. That recorded music is in a dead end seems mostly accepted. Some are happy to look backwards (note the endless parade of 1970s and ’80s musicians to head art festivals). Some are flailing around trying to spark something new. I was one of those for a while, but recently I began to understand that it’s not back or forward, but sideways that we need to go.
Instead of bands and labels we have a new kind of DIY—the tools are the bands—people buy Ableton Live or a guitar instead of a record. Instead of following musicians that represent a style, they DIY on a tool that represents the style. The Pro Tools guys like well-produced rock and the Fruity guys like techno and the MaxMSP girls are all about the new academy. The ones I like to tease are the ones with impossibly large modular synthesisers and myriad button controllers. They used to buy expensive ‘hi-fi’ just to play test records on their turntables. These days they control things.

So bands and labels and all that are off to one side, in a petting zoo. Now we see a new DIY, sort of like the one that we started in. I don’t know what happens next.
Harriet Kate Morgan is a writer, curator, musician and artist who previously co-ran Joint Hassles gallery from 2006 to 2009.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014




S.T LORE WITH MARK GROVES 


'THE FIVE SURFACES' 



A recording originally generated for and originally exhibited at State of Decay, a group show curated by Helen Hughes and Joint Hassles aka Harriet Morgan 10 September - 1 October 1 2011




Friday, October 04, 2013







In the last month or so, we have seen leaders change, policies align and disgusting decisions imposed on the most vulnerable. Decline seems to be our modus operandi. If an empire is failing, how does it fall with the least possible pain?Harriet Morgan’s exhibition with the same name, Decline at Top Shelf above Deans Art in La Trobe Street might have been asking the same thing—an omnipresent apocalypse with a glass of champagne. Nick Austin’s paintings of flying envelopes and Kate Smith’s three-part painting Art school point to a past, a kind of neo-nostalgia: one more melancholy than the other—a nuanced picture and unrecognisable painted forms in spaceless-languid-yellow. Alex Vivian’s Dirt swatch is a sliced soccer shirt flicked with filth and fixed with hairspray skinned over a neo-faux-doric-columned-new-bone-china-serving-dish registers painting in its past-particle-present—the ambiguity of polity evident in an array of decadence.


New improved qualities …


… reads the text on Janet Burchill and Jenifer McCamley’s painting accompanied by a chair.


Helen Johnson’s video as long as a pop song has a group of nameless voices discussing Badiou and Brecht in a context that’s not ours to be privy to. We see, not hear, violins played and a cat looks back at me spliced after footage of Karl Marx’s grave. I look down to my phone, a ‘fact’ reads: other than humans, cats are the only other species which likes getting things for free. While wondering what this might mean, the analytical screen and self-conscious spoken words remain synced, ‘I keep making the same point, fine, but … I don’t understand what an individual is. I don’t know what it is … ‘ But it is in the opening lines, ‘But aren’t the militants here precisely trying to prevent the young militant from taking this path’, that we find the dissension and the doubling in Decline.


To depose is to get rid of, dismiss or displace. De-pose on the other hand, might infer a colloquial reference to the stance of someone captured on The Satorialist blog. In either form, power is undermined—that of the leader by an action or that of the image (and beauty itself) by language.




Excerpt from article Der For by Lisa Radford

http://www.stamm.com.au/de-for/

Thursday, October 03, 2013




DECLINE 



Jennifer McCamley, Homage to Thierry de Cordier (I have absolutely nothing to do with the 20th century), 1989, Watercolour and stamp on paper, Courtesy of the artist
Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, New Improved Qualities, 2007, Acrylic paint on vinyl film projection screen. Plastic stacking chair, Courtesy the artists
(centre) Luke Holland, Warning, 2013, Plywood, VHS Players, TV, Artist’s Collated Video, Courtesy of the artist
Kate Smith, Art school, 2013, Oil, acrylic and cardboard coaster on canvas board, Courtesy of the Artist and Sutton Gallery Melbourne 
Dan Arps, Not Titled Atm, 2011, Mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne
Nick Austin, Travelling Envelope #10, 2012, Acrylic on paper, Courtesy of Hopkinson Mossman
Fergus Binns, Artist Canvas (and Palette), 2010/11, Acrylic and sand on plastic plate and canvas, Courtesy of the artist
Luke Holland, Warning, 2013, Marine Ply, VHS Players, TV, Artist’s Collated Video, Courtesy of the artist
Fergus Binns, Watership Down, 2011, Oil on Board, Courtesy of the artist and Utopian Slumps 
Dan Arps, Untitled (green ambivalent up), 2012, Polyurethane resin, spray-paint, Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne
Dan Arps, Not Titled Atm, 2011, Mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne
Kate Smith, Art school, 2013, Oil, acrylic and cardboard coaster on canvas board, Courtesy of the Artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
Nick Austin, Travelling Envelope #10, 2012, Acrylic on paper, Courtesy of Hopkinson Mossman
Nick Austin, Travelling Envelope #10, 2012, Acrylic on paper, Courtesy of Hopkinson Mossman
Fergus Binns, Artist Canvas (and Palette), 2010/11, Acrylic and sand on plastic plate and canvas, Courtesy of the artist
Fergus Binns, Watership Down, 2011, Oil on Board, Courtesy of the artist and Utopian Slumps 
Jennifer McCamley, Homage to Thierry de Cordier (I have absolutely nothing to do with the 20th century), 1989,Watercolour and stamp on paper, Courtesy of the artist
Joshua Petherick, Gutter, 2013, Print, glass, wood, lacquer, Courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen Galerie, Berlin
Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, New Improved Qualities, 2007, Acrylic paint on vinyl film projection screen, Courtesy the artists
Fergus Binns, Watership Down, 2011, Oil on Board, Courtesy of the artist and Utopian Slumps 
Jennifer McCamley, Homage to Thierry de Cordier (I have absolutely nothing to do with the 20th century), 1989,Watercolour and stamp on paper, Courtesy of the artist
Dan Arps, Not Titled Atm, 2011, Mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne
Dan Arps, Untitled (green ambivalent up), 2012, Polyurethane resin, spray-paint, Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc, Melbourne
Kain Picken & Rob McKenzie, Birth Control, 2008, acrylic on canvas, Courtesy of the artists
Joshua Petherick, Gutter, 2013, Print, glass, wood, lacquer, Courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen Galerie, Berlin
Kain Picken & Rob McKenzie, Heaven and Hell, 2010, Oil on Linen, Courtesy of the artists
Brent Harris, Embark, 2013, Monotype, Courtesy of artist and Tolarno Galleries 
Joshua Petherick, Gutter, 2013, Print, glass, wood, lacquer, Courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen Galerie, Berlin
Kain Picken & Rob McKenzie, Heaven and Hell, 2010, Oil on Linen, Courtesy of the artists
Brent Harris, Embark, 2013, Monotype, Courtesy of artist and Tolarno Galleries 
Joshua Petherick, Forensic Stutter, 2013, Wood, lacquer, polyurethane resin, carbon, mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen Galerie, Berlin
Lane Cormick, Untitled, 2010, Mixed media, Courtesy of Daine Singer
TV Moore, Untitled, 2010, Colour photograph with hand-painted frame, Courtesy of Kaliman Rawlins
Dale Hickey, Untitled I,II, Courtesy of the artist
Tony Garifalakis, The Hills Have Eyes (US Woodlands), 2012, Fabric Collage, Courtesy of the artist
Lane Cormick, Untitled, 2010, Mixed media, Courtesy of Daine Singer
TV Moore, Untitled, 2010, Colour photograph with hand-painted frame, Courtesy of Kaliman Rawlins
Dale Hickey, Untitled I,II, Courtesy of the artist
Tony Garifalakis, The Hills Have Eyes (US Woodlands), 2012, Fabric Collage, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #1, 2013, Dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #2, 2013, dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist
Kain Picken & Rob McKenzie, Birth Control, 2008, acrylic on canvas, Courtesy of the artists 
Lane Cormick, Untitled, 2010, Mixed media, Courtesy of Daine Singer
TV Moore, Untitled, 2010, Colour photograph with hand-painted frame, Courtesy of Kaliman Rawlins
Dale Hickey, Untitled I,II, Courtesy of the artist

Helen Johnson, Er Brecht, Wir Brechen, 2008, Digital video, subtitled, 3:20, Courtesy of Sutton Gallery and the artist
Kain Picken & Rob McKenzie, Heaven and Hell, 2010, Oil on Linen, Courtesy of the artists
Brent Harris, Embark, 2013, Monotype, Courtesy of artist and Tolarno Galleries 
Joshua Petherick, Forensic Stutter, 2013, Wood, lacquer, polyurethane resin, carbon, mixed media, Courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen Galerie, Berlin
Alex Vivian, Dirt Swatch, 2013, Dirt, water and tracksuit lint, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Object, 2013, Shoe, material, dog hair, dirt and PVA glue, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #1, 2013, Dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #2, 2013, dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #1, 2013, Dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist
Alex Vivian, Plain Jacket #2, 2013, dirt, soccer shirt, PVA glue, ceramic plate and hairspray, Courtesy of the artist

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Helen Hughes for State of Decay

I.
On a day in 1996, I joined the long queue of schoolgirls to the reception at my junior school to get a black and white photocopy of a photograph of Lauren Hewitt’s face. Lauren, you see, was in our senior school and she was going to be in the Atlanta Olympic Games representing Australia in long jump — or something. As the queue before me shortened, friends began to come out of the office and compare their photocopies. Lauren’s freckles, which had once been so cute, were beginning to morph into frightening blotches as the bright white light under the hood of the photocopier ricocheted from left to right, left to right with its stoic, metronomic regularity. The freckles seemed to join together and multiply with each added copy, like a game of Conway’s Life on the athlete’s face, until the grey-scale contours were fully obliterated into stark, two-tone, black and white compositions. The grotesqueness of the abstractions augmented with a Richter-like quality until, at last, I was handed my version of the distorted portrait. Xerox-paper-white teeth beamed out at me from a mess of powdery black shapes, which in turn smudged and cracked with the slightest pressure applied to the paper.


II.

Seth Price, Mister Copy, talks about a generative violation of the original through the creation of its double — ‘a process’, he types wryly, ‘seen as one more step in the lamentable cultural slide from representation to repetition’. In his essay “Was Ist Lost”, about the culture of sampling in the minimalist music of Steve Reich and the invention of the digitised human voice, Price traces the history and economy of copying: from monks transcribing religious texts in the Middle Ages, to the establishment of copyright law in the sixteenth century, to the introduction and affordability of portable samplers in the late-twentieth century and their ability to generate, simultaneously, both presence and absence through glimpses at familiarity.


For Price, doubling as a measure of conservation is dialectically entwined with the process (or, perhaps more accurately, the threat) of decay. Speaking of the ritual of opera, where the same scores by Toscanini or Puccini are repeatedly rehearsed and regurgitated by successive generations of singers and musicians over centuries in a bid to safeguard the canon, he argues that the concept of originality is both preserved and destroyed by the looming threat of decay. Price writes: ‘The emptying gestures of ritual are a force of preservation, just as death is the romanticizing principle in life.’

III.
Robert Smithson experienced this in the sand pit (of his mind) in 1967. In his essay titled “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey”, he proved the irreversibility of eternity, or the one-way voyage into decay, vis-à-vis his famous vehicle of entropy. He entreated readers to …

Picture in your mind’s eye the sandbox divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that, we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be the restoration of the original division but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy.

Lauren runs up and down the track jumping into the sand pit as the school photocopier, exhaustively, spits out black and white, A4 pictures of her face into its plastic tray. Aspiring sopranos around the world rehearse Toscanini in their bedrooms while the Metropolitan Opera House in New York prepares for the opening night of Verdi’s Aida. Meanwhile, in the colonial outpost of Melbourne, a digital film of Puccini’s Tosca performed at The Met is beamed onto a screen in Lygon Court, Carlton. These repetitions hold their place over centuries, while context, purpose and meaning slip quietly away. They are replaced by a nostalgia for such things. A photocopy of desire, devolving further into abstraction with each iteration.

S.T.Lore Piece for State of Decay Exhibition

 the five surfaces
               

                                                               |||||


Cut off my arm. I say, "Me and my arm."
You cut off my other arm. I say, "Me and my two arms."
You...take out...
...take out my stomach, my kidneys,
assuming that were possible...
And I say, "Me and my intestines."

Do you follow me?
And now, if you cut off my head...
...would I say, "Me and my head" or "Me and my body"?

What right has my head to call itself me?

What right? 1.

                                                               |||||


Echoes. Repetitions.

The veneers are being stripped and blasted.

Molar. Mortar. Molar. Mortar.

Maldoror.

Motor.

Major.

Molar.

Hold Steady. Everything prefigures petrified movement and calcified death. Vertebrates and Invertebrates clump together beneath the droppings of the birds as the halting pressures of conformity catapult down. Gravity begins to fuse all that we see into a new form. It is all there: the rectagonal edges, the grided white lines, the uniform flat gradient, yet the material is entirley constructed of black marble and it has been polished to a high sheen. It seems impossible, but there it is before you reflected in your damaged hands.

Across the expanse is a low squat concrete building. It resembles a clinic. You are well aware that preference, in all things, is given to the standing and you transfer your weight evenly to each foot. Directly in front of you are the five surfaces.

Carry On?

Yes, of course. Proceed.

You walk with the shuffle of hooves through the gate and down into the chute.

It is the first of many innoculations.


                                                               |||||


Bypassing Fractured Endodon.

Extirpation of Pulp.

This leads to the First Exposure.

Debridement of Root.

Adhesive Restoration.

All processes are in order to cultivate the Five surfaces.

Just to be sure, just to be safe: there can be no talk and no sudden movement.

Out across the mirrored stretch you begin. Blood is seeping from your bandaged hand and the surface is difficult to walk on. Looking behind you there is a trail of dirt and blood. Out now near the centre, the reflecting surface starts to create confusion. Looking down at your dirty feet, the sky is painted black with rippled marble and so are the birds and the walls of the building, so are your arms and your hands and now your mottled face. Yet you persist on with slippery feet. There is the you who is walking. There is the you who is reflected beneath. It appears you are walking on the sky, walking on the sides of the buildings, walking on the birds but you know this is not true because you a have a pain which the reflected you appears not to share. Humans cannot share physical pain. Yes, we can all hold hands, but pain is experienced on one's own; such as death, such as ageing, such as decay.

Are you married?

Excuse the question, but it's because of children. This is a very quiet building and my wife and I are getting on. We don't like noise.

No. You are alone.

Very good.

You are one of the good one's.

The surging riptide of images starts to take hold as thousands of pounds of interior sand are emptied beneath you. The pull feels too strong and your vision alternates between darkness and light. The dull roaring of sand grains caterwall with hooks and mirrors. We are consumed by a vacant world full of teeth and decay, we are caught between the horror of broken and stilted mouths: let us survive these vast, hungry, violent worlds of territory and flesh. That's it! Try to reach the shallows once more despite the calls of family duty. Seek the quiet beach of her limbs as they lay there unblemished by the sun; white as the clearest sheet laid upon the flat wood of an ancient desk. Crawl up her thighs and let these fingers glide over the surface of her skin and paint this reality with a new name.

Gentle caresses radiate down through her vibrating arm. The light, the light is so clear and bright that your eyes are shaded. The experience is one of soft scents and nulled gums. Contained within this cell are the elements of childhood; the drift of long shimmering dark hair, the gentle clamping of the mouth, the rise of her chest and the moving of light fingers. Look up into her fragile neck and ear lobe, the bidding curve of her eye socket and the shallow movements of her limbs. Her thumb rests on the bridge of your chin and halts all speech. Pain, such intense pain. It grounds you now in a seated body. You must reach out. The nape of her neck is so close. The press of her chest swells against you. Fear reaches the amygdala. Fight or Flight. Your neck cranes forward through the pain. Pushing. Just pushing now for her. You wish to drink from her. Drink the numbing milk. Bury yourself in her soft flesh. To feel her white skin. Her overswollen body lurches in your grasp. She allows you. She whispers to you. She comforts you and you drink. There is no thought of the crowded streets, no thought of the good ones or of the criminals. There is only this room; only the pain and it's sweet relief. There is only her.

Whispers clear away questions.

Soothing sounds and dripping thoughts of milk.

Proteins and erased memories.

Can death reach the child?

Do wasting limbs and flesh require such a sacrifice?

Do I reproduce to starve off this fear?

Supra biological means of reproduction are also available. Please, line up and press buttons. Watch the tideflow of material. The endless words and pictures. Feel the perfect and empty porcelein replications that now line our mouths. Hear the chink as they clap together. The bell-like calls of artificial mouths. Now, ahead of us, watch as the ashen walls are blown upon clinical winds. Everything before us has stretched and the reduction of life is driven now to a simple row of mouths - all chattering for flesh and nourishing milk.

It is true that nothing can satisfy them.


                                                               |||||


Loping footsteps herald the return to your apartment. There you stand in the ownership of your belongings: your table, your fridge, your knives and forks. You push away the wardrobe full of rotting clothes, all those drippings of identity and you push childlike fingers through the wet plaster and gouge new meaning into the recesses of this dwelling. The holes made by your own hands, fashioned into your own shapes, will be the resting places of your original teeth. Each with their nerves intact they will plant themselves into the walls and grow with snake-like feelers into the fixtures and joints, into the floors and into the ceiling.

Listen to the rattling sounds of a fast approaching storm outside.

You crash into the street and search for the elderly. Right there in the gutter you empty the old one's of their dentures and begin constructing the alternate city. You are determined to build a power site for the new paradigm. Gently moving and fusing together the artifical mouths, you construct a white, porcelein architechtural rendering of a fresh space. The artificial teeth pile up around you. Several versions have been tried and thrown aside. It is just you in the gutter. You and the vacant teeth.

Who whispers into your ears?

Who fills your silence?

What are you chasing?

Face it! There are no good ones, there are just layers of decency: as you near decay, as you apporach pain and death, these layers change and the five surfaces move, shift and buckle.

Hold on, now dear. Hold on, she whispers.

No need to pull such a long face over a tooth.

I'll tell you a story. Whenever one of my teeth fell out I used to hide it. My mother said it would turn into a coin and lo and behold it did.

How it is in this reflecting world.

How it is in the richness of our mouths, in the value of our teeth, in the elements of our
decay.


                                                               |||||


1. excerpt of dialogue from THE TENANT by Roman Polanski

sim.tay.lore ...............................................................................................................august 2011





STATE OF DECAY 



State of Decay was a Joint Hassles & Helen Hughes collaboration in 2011 at Chapman & Bailey Gallery. Here are some pictures of the show. Sorry for their lateness. More to come soon. 





From left to right- Luke Holland, Marco Fusinato, Blake Hesketh, Harriet K Morgan, Mark Groves 
 Mark Groves, Luke Holland, Harriet K Morgan and Simon Taylor
 Harriet K Morgan, Simon Taylor
Mark Groves, Luke Holland 
 John Nixon (wall), Helen Hughes, Harriet K Morgan, Simon Taylor (table)
 Luke Holland, Alex Vivian and Stewart Cole
 Alex Vivian, Stewart Cole, Harriet K Morgan, Luke Holland and Marco Fusinato
 Alex Vivian, Stewart Cole
 Luke Holland 
 Thomas Miller, Christopher LG Hill and Luke Holland 
 John Nixon (wall)
 Luke Holland, Marco Fusinato, Blake Hesketh and Harriet K Morgan



Saturday, July 06, 2013